Tips & Tricks for Spring Cleaning Your College Dorm

By Nathalie Oates on March 26, 2013

College living is all about conserving space and making your temporary home as welcoming and comforting as possible. If you missed the January New Year’s resolution boat, spring is the perfect time to dust off everything and move around some furniture for the last few weeks of the semester. Spring cleaning is especially crucial if you are getting ready for the impending move-out in May. This is your calm before the storm. So open your windows (because it’s warm enough now!) and spray a little Windex on them. I would get aggressive.

1. First step! Restock some basic cleaning supplies. Swiffer/Swiffer WetJet is your best friend. Have an All Purpose cleaner on hand (Meyer’s is all natural and my personal favorite). Lysol cleaning spray should be used for any disinfecting situations that may arise. Keep lavender-scented Febreze handy. Method dish washing soap is effective, inexpensive, and saves your hands.

2. Attack the bathroom! If you have a personal bathroom, there are also a few household products that, surprisingly, can be great cleaners. Coca-cola is a superb toilet cleaner. I have personally done this and it works so well! Here is the Pinterest tutorial I used. Baking soda has natural deodorizing properties that make it a powerful fighter and perfect for scouring the sink and faucet (directions here). Lastly, go through your toiletries and makeshift medicine cabinet and discard expired medications and old make-up.

3. Scrub down “overlooked areas” such at the walls, door frames, surfaces under furniture and window sills with a sponge, some dishwashing liquid, and warm water. Dust your light fixtures and fans with a microfiber cloth.

4. Reorganize you closet. Do you have clothes with tags in the back of your closet? Stuff you haven’t worn in months? Stuff you borrowed from your friends you have yet to wash and return? Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the last semester (and have no prayer of wearing in the future). This is a perfect time to ask a friend over to help you purge. Play a game of “yes or no”: she can hold up each item and you must make a quick, but thoughtful decision. Donate the items that get a “No,” or if they are designer brands, sell them on eBay (it’s easy to set up an account!).   Put away your winter clothes in storage, or take them home over Spring Break and send them out for dry cleaning, especially those coats, jackets and scarves. Organize your remaining pieces by type (top, skirt, etc), then by color. Use “Huggable Hangers” to save space (available at Target). One last thing your closet needs: a stain-fighting kit. Get a Tide To-Go pen stat (that thing literally got a whole Starbucks latte out of a silk dress this summer in a matter of minutes and forever has my praise). See this chart on how to fight other common stains.

5. De-clutter and Organize a Storage System. Invest in some pretty boxes for storing miscellaneous items under your bed (like the aforementioned winter clothes). “The pretty boxes on the coffee table are like my junk drawers. They’re where all my USB cables and cords are stored,” says Sabrina Soto of HGTV. “I keep them neat with Velcro cord wrappers. Sometimes I’ll go in search of the perfect box to conceal a specific item, and other times I’ll just buy a set of nesting containers in a bunch of sizes knowing I can always find something to put in them.”. Set-up a filing system with pretty file folders and plastic filing bins from The Container Store (They are having a sale right now!)

6. Redecorate your walls with posters or decals (my favorite: Wall Pops!). Sherwin Williams sells chic wallpaper that is easily removable. How about create a giant calendar in your room out of cork board (here’s an examplefrom Pottery Barn). All you’ll need from the craft store is cork board, masking tape, push pins, and accent paper for the numbers.

Photo care of Pottery Barn

7. Take your rugs outside and give them a good shake. Buy a new vacuum (such as the DirtDevil stick vacuum), and commit to using it regularly. Get a smaller version, like the Black & Decker DustBuster for smaller emergencies. If you have wood floors, make sure you are taking care of them! Use saucers or trivets under plants to avoid water damage. Use furniture pads to make sure you don’t scratch the floors. Mop about once a week with a mild soap, such as Murphy’s oil soap.

8. Dress up your desk! Invest some items that will last and organize your life and homework. Check out the brightly colored accessories from Poppin. Get monogrammed notepads—you might actually want to write in them. They’re also a great way to show off how professional you are. Pick up some unique school supplies from Modcloth (because I need some paperclips shaped like elephants) or troll EtsyThese personalized plannerswill make your life so much easier – and totally help you out when you graduate.

A preview for what your desk should look like! (From Poppin’s website)

9.  Freshen up your bed: rotate and/or flip your mattress. Wash your winter blankets and comforters. Wash your mattress pad and bed skirt.

10. Reorganize your bookshelves. HouseBeautiful recommends sorting books by subject and size. Line books vertically and horizontally. Sell books from past semesters back to your local book seller, a trustworthy buy-back site, such as has been a nice and easy way to get money back for me). Or, donate them to your local used book store or school library.

Use your boring bookshelves as a way to display your favorite reads and trickets (Image: ANNIE SCHLECHTER at HouseBeautiful).

Buy a plant! Bring the garden inside. If you are feeling ambitious, make a tray of succulents for your windowsill. This is the one Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill - remember her?) made. Here is a similar visual how-to thanks to Pinterest. Or try one of these 25 easiest houseplants.

Ultimately, this stuff should make you feel good. Being in a cleaner, prettier, version of what you started with is almost like creating a clean slate. Designer Joe Nye even says, “The effect will be cathartic and make you feel like you have accomplished something.” See if it happens for you.

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